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Why Is the Niqab under Attack? (1 viewing) (1) Guest
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TOPIC: Why Is the Niqab under Attack?
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Why Is the Niqab under Attack? 4 Years, 11 Months ago Karma: 0  
Over the past few months, the niqab has once again been thrust into the political and media spotlight in various countries.

This month, the scholar Sheikh Mohamed Sayyed Tantawi, head of Al-Azhar University in Egypt waded in on the argument when he ordered a school girl in Cairo to remove her niqab and stated that he would seek a ban on the face veil in all schools affiliated to Al-Azhar. The Sheikh is no stranger to supporting and rubber stamping the anti-Islamic actions of Western governments. His track record includes supporting the French hijab ban, advising Muslim girls to take off their hijabs to comply with this law, and shaking hands with Israeli President Shimon Peres – a butcher whose hands are soaked with the blood of thousands of Palestinian Muslims. His latest remarks have effectively given a “green light” to various Western governments to ban the niqab in their own countries.

The day after his comments, the Northern League (the far right political party and a member of the Italian Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition government) proposed legislation aimed at banning the face veil in Italy. Italian politicians such as Barbara Saltamartini, a member of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom Party, justified the bill by quoting Tantawi. She said, “Banning the burqa cannot be considered anti-Islamic because wearing it is not obligatory in Islam”.

Many have wondered why at a time when the world faces problems of such huge proportions such as the economic crisis, world poverty, and global warming, should so many Western leaders choose to focus political and media attention on a piece of cloth worn by a fraction of Muslim women living within their borders. Within the increasingly racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Islamic climate currently raging across Europe and other Western nations, cheap jabs against Muslims or anything associated with Islam will undoubtedly gain politicians media air time and gain favour amongst the rising sector of right-wing voters within their electorate. However, the reasons behind this attack on the niqab extend beyond political populist stunts pull by opportunistic politicians hoping to bag a few extra votes. It is part of a cohort of desperate underhand efforts by particular Western governments to push any visible signs of Islam out of their societies in an attempt to quell the rise of Muslims adopting Islam wholesale and rejecting Western liberal values. John R. Bowen, author of “Why the French don’t like Headscarves: Islam, the State and Public Space”, has commented regarding the Muslim woman’s dress, “There is a sense that people who are publicly displaying their religious or ethnic characteristics are a slap in the face of French applied political theory.”

As with hijab bans, attacks on the niqab are aimed at forcing Muslims to embrace Western secular values and reject Islam. Andre Gerin, the French legislator who originally proposed the bill banning the face veil in France and who now chairs the French niqab parliamentary commission is on record commenting, “..the burqa is the tip of the iceberg..... Islamism really threatens us”.

The response of Muslims living in the West to this attack has to date been varied. Some who view the garment as a matter of choice in Islam rather than an obligation have not seen the relevance of the issue to their lives as Muslims, viewing calls for bans of the face veil with less importance than hijab bans. Others such as the Muslim Canadian Congress have enthusiastically supported government bans on the dress in their countries on the basis of the belief that it stems from tradition and not Islamic texts.

However, what is for sure, whether you are a Muslim who believes the face veil to be an Islamic obligation, recommendation or matter of choice in the religion, this current controversy surrounding the niqab is an issue that affects us all. In the first instance, the potential harmful repercussions upon the lives of Muslims living in the West - whether it be abuse, physical attacks or discrimination in society - of the anti-Islamic sentiments generated through the emotive debates on this issue, make no distinction between those Believers who wear niqab and those who don’t.

Moreover, as Muslims we must recognise that this attack against the niqab comes at a time when almost every Islamic belief, rule and obligation - the hijab, jilbab; the Islamic marriage contract; the Islamic view on women, divorce and polygamy; its ruling and punishments systems; its view on homosexuality; its political beliefs, even the Islamic ruling of the segregation of men and women at weddings – has been placed under the political and media spotlight and labeled extreme, oppressive, barbaric, unacceptable and a threat to Western societies – all aimed at coercing Muslims to give up their Islamic beliefs in exchange for secular ones. We need to see the attack on the face veil within this framework and not separate.

Therefore it is not the niqab that is on trial here but ISLAM and its position in the West. The Muslim woman's dress is once again being used as a tool with which to attack Islam – not least to re-inforce the age old allegations of Islam’s mistreatment of women. In secular societies that increasingly label any visible signs of Islam as signs of radicalization, a threat to community relations, or a symbol of a failure to integrate, we need to recognise that calls for niqab bans are not the last target within Islam that will come under the radar of Western governments.

Therefore as Muslims, we need to speak out and defend our deen against any attack, whether it be on the niqab, the hijab, the Prophet (saw), the Islamic social rules, punishment system, or its political beliefs. We should break any lies about our Deen. We should not accept for any accusation to be levelled at our Islamic beliefs without objection and challenge. To be silent on such attacks would be to lay an open path for those who bear hatred towards Islam, to further vilify our deen, demonise Muslims and call for bans on other aspects of our religion.

Furthermore, we should not allow this issue to become a source of division between us as Muslims. The classical scholars of Islam and even some of the companions of the Prophet (saw) differed in their views regarding the face veil. However, they all recognised it as a valid Islamic opinion and therefore never allowed the issue to become a cause of division amongst them. Today, attacks on the niqab are aimed at dividing Muslims along the lines of those who believe it to be an obligation and those who do not. The agenda of Western governments to weaken the unity of the Muslims through generating potential causes for division should be nothing new to us. We are all familiar with attempts to divide the Muslim Ummah along moderate/extremist, modern/traditional, or Sunni/Shia and ethnic lines. So regardless of our Islamic opinion, we should stand united against this attack. The Prophet (saw) established the relationship between Muslims when he stated in the Covenant of Madinah,

“No Believer shall oppose the client of another Believer. Whosoever is rebellious, or seeks to spread injustice, enmity or sedition among the Believers, the hand of every man shall be against him, even if he be a son of one of them. A Believer shall not kill a Believer in retaliation of an unbeliever, nor shall he help an unbeliever against a Believer.”

Finally, we must engage in this debate regarding Islam and its place in Western society, with hikma and in a manner to lead the argument rather than be led. To argue against bans on the basis of personal freedom is to place our trust upon a flawed, non-Islamic liberal concept that has shown itself through hijab bans to be “here today and gone tomorrow”. To lead the debate is to place Western secular values in the dock in place of Islam.

How can the Islamic dress that guards the modesty and respect of the woman be accused of enslaving her, while the enslavement of women is legal under the law within secular societies - where brothels, pornography, and lap-dancing clubs are easily accessible under the premise of liberty or sexual freedom? How can the Islamic social rules that place strict regulations on the interaction of men and women be described as backward while liberal states grapple with widespread promiscuity, adultery, single mothers and broken families due to a free for all in relationships between the sexes? How can the Islamic punishments be labeled barbaric when Western governments are drowning in crime statistics, overflowing prisons, epidemic levels of anti-social behaviour, and clearly at a loss as to how to create a safe and secure environment for their citizens?

How can it be that while capitalist secular states grapple with economic chaos, political corruption, epidemic levels of crime, social and family meltdown, rising individualism and materialism, and increasing drug and alcohol abuse amongst their young that the niqab, hijab, and Islam are put on trial? How can it be, that in such a situation, Western politicians can dare to stand in judgment over Islam – an ideology that holds political, economic, social and moral values and laws that create an economically prosperous, stable, morally elevated and tranquil society? Is it not high time that as Muslims, we turn the tables on this debate?


Allah (swt) says, ?????? ???????? ??????? ??????? ????? ????? ??????? ???????? ???????? ??????? ???????? ???? ??????????????

“Who is better in speech than the one who calls (men) to Allah, works righteousness and says I am one of the Muslims.” [Fussilat 41: 33]
 
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